CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – The family of former Centerville Police officer John P. Kalaman has forged a legacy of finding hope and offering help after tragedy. The tradition continues with the 18th annual Community Blood Center John P. Kalaman Memorial Blood Drive Monday, April 27.
The event runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Centerville Police Department at 155 West Spring Valley Rd. The drive is held in honot of Kalaman and Washington Township Firefighter Robert O’Toole who were killed when they were stuck at an accident scene by another vehicle.
The tragedy prompted passage of Ohio’s “Move Over, Slow Down” law for motorists approaching a stationary emergency vehicle. John’s parents John and Paula Kalaman proposed the first CBC memorial blood drive in 1998 and continue to serve as the coordinators. The blood drive is traditionally held on or around Kalaman’s April 27th birthday. Since 1998 nearly 3,900 blood donations have been made in his honor.
“I know how important it is, but I really know now,” Paula Kalaman said. “Last summer I had complications during surgery and I needed three units of blood – bing-bing-bing – and that saved my life. You always think it’s for someone else, that you’re never going to need it yourself. But the blood supply was there, and that gave me a new perspective.”
Paula is also a breast cancer survivor. The blood loss came during a follow up surgery to her mastectomy. Complications were related to blood thinners she must take for a heart condition. “I almost bled out,” she said.
The tragedy of their son’s death has inspired the Kalamans to be advocates for emergency scene safety, blood and organ donations, and education. Now Paula has added a new cause to what she calls her “soap box.” She strongly urges women to be more vigilant about breast cancer detection.